Hagan Discussed the Importance of NIH Funding for the NC Economy and for Public Health
Asheville, NC – U.S. Senator Kay Hagan today toured Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Asheville facility. Thermo Fisher employs 750 people at the Asheville site where they manufacture lab products such as ultra-low temperature freezers. After the tour, Hagan spoke with employees at the facility about issues in Washington that affect their industry, workforce development and the overall economy.
“Products manufactured by Thermo Fisher are used to develop advancements in medical technology, find real-life solutions to the real-life challenges faced by society and create more high-tech, high-paying jobs in North Carolina and across the country,” Hagan said. “These advancements depend on funding from the NIH, the leading supporter of biomedical research in the world. It is unacceptable that because of sequestration Congress cut $1.55 billion in NIH funding. Congress must find a balanced solution to sequestration that promotes investments critical to public health and economic growth.”
In 2012 North Carolina entities received 2,183 NIH grants totaling $1.06 billion, which supported 18,800 jobs. Due to sequestration, the budget for NIH funding was cut 5% costing North Carolina $50 million in funding and an estimated 950 jobs. Thermo Fisher relies on revenue from government and academic institutions who purchase instruments and supplies to perform NIH and other government-sponsored research.
“We welcome Senator Hagan to our Thermo Fisher site in Asheville, which is an important part of North Carolina's innovative economy. The senator's visit to our Asheville facility allows us to show how our talented workforce enables our customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer," said Phil McLellan, site leader, laboratory equipment, for Thermo Fisher Scientific. "Government support, especially from the NIH, is critical to our success in Asheville. With about 25 percent of our global revenues coming from institutions that rely heavily on government funding for research, we advocate for the continued US investment in this critical area and look forward to Sen. Hagan’s ongoing support.”
Hagan also discussed her AMERICA Works Act, which she introduced with Republican Senator Dean Heller of Nevada and Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana to help close the skills gap between available jobs and the unemployed. This bill brings industry leaders and community colleges together to create nationally recognized, postsecondary credentials that workers can use to fill the manufacturing jobs that are available today.
At Hagan’s urging, the AMERICA Works Act was recently included in the Workforce Investment Act, the primary federal law that supports workforce development. TheWorkforce Investment Act was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on a bipartisan 18-3 vote. Hagan is a member of the HELP Committee. With committee work on the bill complete, it now stands ready for consideration by the full Senate.